A multitude of errors hurt the NRMA NSW Country Cockatoos in their opening match of the 2015 representative season at Drummoyne Oval on Saturday.
Even allowing for the disappointing performance the Cockatoos nearly pulled the result out of the fire, but eventually went down 24 – 18 to NSW Suburban who regained the Maher Ross Cup ending a two year drought.
The Cockatoos opened strongly and dominated possession and field position, and after 10 minutes of play had jumped out to 6 – 0 lead on the boot of five eight Blake Creighton. This lead could have been increased, with two other penalty goal attempts missing the mark and a try scoring opportunity going begging.
The let offs allowed Subbies back into the match, and after weathering the early Cockatoos attacks they closed the gap to 6 – 5 when they scored a well constructed unconverted try in the 25th minute.
This score again stirred the Cockatoos into action and they responded with an unconverted try to flanker Brad Sheridan as a result of a driving maul from a lineout which took the score to 11 – 5 in favour of the Cockatoos.
Country continued to attack for the remainder of the half but strong Subbies defence, especially at the breakdown which saw several turnovers, and lost opportunities at the lineout saw the score remain unchanged to the half time break.
The second half saw Subbies go on the front foot from the kick off, and after four minutes they crossed for a converted try to take the lead 12 – 11, a lead they never conceded for the remainder of the match.
Subbies continued to apply the pressure which started to have an effect on the Cockatoos, which saw unforced errors start to creep into the play and Subbies grabbed the opportunity by crossing for another unconverted try in the 17th minute of the half to increase their lead to 17 – 11.
Following this score the Cockatoos had the better of the play for the next 15 minutes, but the errors continued to mount which continued to let Subbies work their way out of the danger zone.
Subbies looked to have wrapped up the match when they scored a converted try in the 33rd minute to go out to a 24 – 11 lead, but the Cockatoos continued to mount attacks and with minutes left on the clock winger Eric Vasukicakau crossed for a try which was converted by replacement centre Rapine Mason to close the score-line to 24 – 18.
The Cockatoos went on the attack from the restart, but the Subbies defence continued to hold strong and they held on to take the match and regain the Maher Ross Cup.
Winger Eli Sinoti was awarded the Players Player, while flanker Brad Sheridan, No 8 Joe Akkersdyk, Flanker Tyler Jones and halfback Matt Schwager all tried hard in a beaten team.
The Cockatoos will now regroup before heading to Canberra to play Brumby Provincial at Canberra Stadium on Saturday, 13 June 2015.
NSW Suburban – 24
Ben Borg, Sebastian Burfitt, Cronan Healy & Dan Kelly Tries
Dan Kelly 2 Conversions
NRMA NSW Country Cockatoos – 18
Brad Sheridan & Eric Vasukicakau Tries
Blake Creighton 2 Penalty Goals & Rapine Mason Conversion